In late-1979, a bunch of heavily armed commies crossed the Russian border into Afghanistan. President Jimmy Carter was royally pissed that the Soviets were getting involved in fighting a civil war – especially when the insurgent Mujahideen got all their military training from Carter’s CIA operatives in Pakistan.
On January 20, 1980, in a response typical of the Cold War era, President Carter issued a stern ultimatum that either the Soviets withdraw their troops from Afghanistan within 30 days or the United States would – wait for it – boycott the Summer Olympics to be held later that year in Moscow.
Quaking with fear at the thought that their basketball team would have to compete for a gold medal without facing the likes of Kentucky’s Sam Bowie, Indiana’s Isiah Thomas and Louisville’s Rodney McCray, the Soviets sent Carter a wire saying they were very sorry about intervening in another country’s internal political affairs and immediately withdrew from Afghanistan.
Psych. Just kidding.
The Soviets flipped us the bird, won a whole bunch of medals they did not deserve, and ended up having an occupying force in Afghanistan for nearly a decade.
This week, in a move that would make Jimmy Carter blush with pride, Sen. Lindsey Graham has declared that the United States should consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia over – of all things – Edward Snowden.
NSA leaker Edward Snowden is the [insert: “hero” or “traitor” here] who has been on an extended layover at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow as he attempts to catch a connecting flight to Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, or someplace else willing to offer him asylum.
One would think that eating Russian airport food for nearly a month would be punishment enough for whatever crime Snowden has committed.
On a side note – back in February, I had to hang out at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport while Delta took over 24 hours to fly me from Cincinnati to New Orleans. By the end of the ordeal, had someone tried to force feed me airport borscht, I probably would have given national secrets away too. But I digress.
It’s not lost on anyone that Edward Snowden, who claims he leaked whatever he leaked in the name of liberty, is seeking asylum in countries that, in fact, abhor liberty. It’s a contradiction of principles for him to claim his acts were done under the cloak of civil disobedience and then attempt to seek refuge in countries where dissidents are routinely imprisoned or worse for their actions.
When Patrick Henry spoke to the Virginia House of Burgesses in support of the Colonies entering the Revolutionary War, he did not declare: “Give me liberty or give me asylum somewhere in Latin America where, despite my firm stand here today, I can feel reasonably safe.”
Edward Snowden’s motives and philosophical consistency aside, a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games is not the answer. Carter’s 1980 boycott was based upon a world crisis. Several other nations joined it. Others expressed solidarity with the boycotting nations by either refusing to participate under their country’s flag or by skipping the opening and closing ceremonies.
Given the allegation that the NSA may have been snooping on our European allies, it is hard to imagine that any other country would follow our lead. And since the NSA has been listening to other world leaders lately, we should already know that.
If Edward Snowden refuses to return to the United States and speak out about what he did and explain to the public exactly why he did it, then let him stay in Russia. For all I care, let him carry the hammer and sickle in the Opening Ceremonies at Sochi. And may he grow old on airport borscht.
Rick Robinson is an award-winning author of political thrillers and contemporary fiction. His books can be found on Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.